Congress, AJP hold talks for common oppn candidates in Assam bypolls

Guwahati, Aug 16 (PTI) Assam’s opposition parties Congress and AJP on Monday held discussions for putting up common candidates against the ruling BJP-led alliance in the assembly by-elections in five seats.

Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) vice presidents Shamsher Singh and Kamal Nayan Choudhury visited state Congress chief Bhupen Bora at his residence and discussed the proposal.

“The AJP proposed giving common candidates in all the seats going for the bypolls. We respect the proposal and will discuss it at the appropriate level,” state Congress working president Jakir Hussain Sikdar told PTI.

Sikdar, who was also present during the talks, said that the Congress is always ready to work with all the anti-BJP forces in the state. “We cannot say at this stage that an alliance is being cemented between the Congress and the AJP. A political roadmap will have to be chalked out for that,” he said.

AJP spokesperson Ziaur Rahman said that the party’s central executive committee had on July 16 passed a resolution for common opposition candidates against the BJP in the bypolls, the schedule of which is yet to be announced.

“We informed the Congress about our resolution during the second round of discussions today. Earlier, another state Congress working president Rana Goswami had discussed the issue with AJP general secretary Jagadish Bhuyan,” Rahman said.

The Congress and Akhil Gogoi-led Raijor Dal had held a discussion on August 8 to evaluate possibilities on forming an alliance for the bypolls.

AJP and Raijor Dal had formed a ‘Regional Alliance’, which was not part of the Congress-led ‘Grand Alliance’ in the assembly election this year. The Raijor Dal won one seat, while AJP drew a blank.

Before the assembly polls, both the groupings had called for establishing a united platform of all opposition parties but the ‘Regional Alliance’ had shied away from joining the ‘Grand Alliance’ due to the presence of All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) in it.

The Congress, which was in power for 15 years in Assam since 2001, formed the ‘Grand Alliance’ with AIUDF, BPF, CPI(M), CPI, CPI(ML), Anchalik Gana Morcha (AGM), RJD, Adivasi National Party (ANP) and Jimochayan (Deori) Peoples Party (JPP).

In the 126-member Assam Assembly, the BJP bagged 60 seats, while its allies AGP won nine and UPPL six. In the opposition camp, the Congress won 29, AIUDF 16, BPF four and CPI(M) cornered one seat. Raijor Dal won one seat as an Independent.

As per the seat arrangements of assembly at present, byelections will take place in five seats. One MLA each of United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL) and Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) has died, while two Congress legislators have resigned to join the BJP.

Former chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who joined the Union Cabinet as a minister, is yet to submit his resignation paper in the assembly, but is likely to do so in the coming days.